March 26, 2014 - Comments Off on Cutting the “Network” Cord – Or So I Thought
In my series on cord cutting (Cutting The Cord Analysis, Cable vs. Cutting the Cord & The Fractured Streaming Marketplace), I’ve been talking about how some networks have a better understanding of what customers want and some just downright don’t get it or are confused (NBC & Showtime - You’re Streaming It Wrong). But an interesting fact has arisen that I never expected.
Let me first back up and tell you a few things to set the stage. Networks are scared to death that users aren’t associating content with their brands. For instance, if you go on iTunes and buy How I Met Your Mother, there’s no branding that tells you this show is a CBS show. I’m guessing this is one reason why CBS isn’t on Hulu or AppleTV or Roku. In fact, if you want to watch, let’s say, The Big Bang Theory’s latest episode, you have to wait at least 7 days and then the only access point is through CBS.com. So networks like AMC, Disney, MTV and even PBS, which are distributing content through OTT and services like Hulu, have taken measures to make sure users/viewers understand where that content is originating.
Here’s the funny fact I’ve learned. Because networks like CBS, AMC, FX, NBC, Showtime, etc. are making it so difficult to access their content, I now associate shows with those networks - but in a negative light, not a positive one. Now I look at the shows I want to watch and I make judgements based on which networks those shows belong too: Tosh.0?, oooohhh, that’s a Comedy Central show and they require a registration to watch full episodes (plus a cable subscription). Hannibal?, oooohhh that’s an NBC show and their app only does Airplay Mirroring.
It really can all be boiled down to 3 annoyances:
- Cable Subscription Required - If you wanna watch the latest episode of Warehouse13 on SyFy, guess what, you gotta have a cable subscription. Now, older episodes of most shows are available without a subscription. So you know what that means? Unless you’re chopping the heads off major characters each week like Game of Thrones I can wait till your show is available for free.
- No Airplay/Chromescast - If you do have an app and you’ve chosen Airplay mirror; or worse, purposefully disabled airplay, then you’re killing your viewers. Why do you care how they watch the stream? It’s still a video stream which counts in your favor. Why go out of your way to make it a terrible experience for the user?
Full Episodes Not Available1 - If all you’re serving up to your users is clips, previews, and snippets - then you’re missing the point. If you’re thinking, “We’ll just give them a taste of the show or ‘extra content’” then you don’t understand what the whole chord cutter movement is about and you should just move out of the way for someone who does and can serve your customers better.
Hey, I’m not saying don’t include ads. Include away. I don’t expect anything for free. I realize networks are ad supported. But the future of TV is accessible content on the user/viewer’s terms. And networks who understand that fact, and can get out ahead of the curve, are going to be better off in the long run.
- I get the fact that lots of show contracts were written many years ago and full episode streaming may not be part of those legacy contracts. That’s a different problem. ↩